We are constantly striving to improve existing functionality and add new features to Sefaira. This is an ongoing list of changes to all Sefaira Products.
We recommend bookmarking this page as it is a good reference if you want to understand when and why something has changed in any of the applications.
NEW FEATURE - DETAILED PERIMETER CORE ZONING
Perimeter core zoning is the default zoning strategy in the web application. It's a great way to zone a building with minimal effort to improve the accuracy of results.
One drawback with the perimeter core zoning algorithm we were using is that all north facing zones get lumped into a single thermal zone. For options with lots of buildings in the massing or buildings that have self-shading characteristics, this is not always realistic.
As a result we've added a detailed mode for perimeter / core zoning. This makes the same zone boundaries as today's perimeter core zoning algorithm, but gives each non-contiguous space it's own zone.
The result will be a more zones and more associated accuracy in this mode.
The existing process will still be the default and will now be called "Basic Perimeter / Core"
NEW FEATURE - AIR SOURCE HEAT PUMPS (SYSTEMS CUSTOMERS ONLY)
There is a new heating hot water loop option called "Heat Pumps". This represents an air-source heat pump which is a device that extracts heat from the air to generate heating hot water.
This was a very popular feature request but was not natively available in EnergyPlus. We therefore integrated the performance curves into the idf file separately.
Watch this space for more details which will be documented. The solution is dynamic, considering external air temperatures and supply water temperatures in determining the effective hourly COP of the device.
NEW FEATURE - OPERATIVE TEMPERATURE
The comfort output tab now does two calculations when you turn comfort on: Operative Temperature (also known as Resultant Temperature) as well as Dry Bulb Temperature.
One key difference: you need to set the range you're trying to achieve for all zones. This is different to Dry Bulb Temperature which uses the setpoint range in each zone to work out the threshold that you're trying to hit.
Many would argue that operative temperature is a better measure of comfort but note that because operative temperature includes radiant temperature, heavily glazed perimeter zones can be expected to have trouble passing even if a building is conditioned. This is because the radiant temperature (which makes up half of the operative temperature is high).
We'll be publishing more guidance on operative temperature soon.
NEW ARTICLE - WHAT WARM-UP AND COOL-DOWN MEANS
This is a new knowledgebase article explaining what warm-up and cool-down loads mean.
IMPROVEMENT - EDITABLE VALUES FOR RESPONSE CURVES
We have had lots of requests to change slider ranges for response curves.
In the end, we decided to make the two ends of the response curve range manually adjustable with the slider showing "Typical" values.
If the value is outside the "typical range" the box will go red but it will still use those values.
BUG FIX - RUN KICK-OFF FOR NEW RUNS
We recently introduced an improvement that starts the first run automatically for new projects.
We ironed out a few kinks that were identified with this today.
IMPROVEMENT - PLACEMENT OF ZONE NAMES
We adjusted how we determine where to put the zone names in an effort to make it easier to identify which one is which.
IMPROVEMENT - COLOURING OF IGNORED ZONES
Ignored zones are now coloured grey to make it clearer which ones have been ignored.
BUG FIX - COMFORT THRESHOLD SETTING NOT "STICKING"
The threshold adjustment for thermal comfort was not being remembered properly in some browsers.
This was fixed today.
IMPROVEMENT - PV INPUT TWEAKS
The maximum area for the PV slider was previously set to an extremely large number. It is now limited to 8,000 m2 (~88,000ft2) (although you can make it larger by manually entering the area).
The default orientation for new projects is now 180°. This means that if you don't change it, it will be typical for northern hemisphere sites (a lot of people were not changing it then ending up with panels angled at 30° to the north which reduced performance substantially).
IMPROVEMENT - RUN BUTTON "STICKING"
When in "Run button mode" the run button would reset if all the changes made to the interface had not "processed" by the time the run button was clicked.
This was causing the run button to "switch off" and cancel the run.
If you click the run button and there are still changes being processed they will not disrupt the simulation.
NEW FEATURE - "ENERGY MIX" VIEWS FOR COST AND CO2 IN ENERGY BREAKDOWN GRAPHS
You can now swap between an Energy Use and Energy Mix breakdown of the building's energy use in the Energy Breakdown graphics.
This is especially helpful to create views for projects aiming to achieve net zero energy cost or net zero CO2 emissions because the renewable portion can be separated out of the energy use.
BUG FIX - RADIANT FLOOR WITH UNCONDITIONED ZONES
Red box errors were common for models containing at least one zone tagged as "Unconditioned" while using a Radiant Floor HVAC system
This was fixed today.
BUG FIX - GENERATE VIEWS ERRORS
Generate Views is a feature in the Revit plugin that creates a special view for Sefaira excluding all the unnecessary geometry so it's easier to upload the model.
Some Revit models were throwing errors when this button was clicked.
This was fixed today.
IMPROVEMENT - AUTOMATIC FIRST RUN FOR NEW PROJECTS
We had noticed that some users were confused when creating a new project and wanted to communicate how the product worked.
For new projects, the first run happens automatically on creation even if you are in run button mode.
BUG FIX - RENEWABLE ENERGY RESPONSE CURVES
The response curves for solar PV were not parsing properly and reporting a flat line.
This was fixed today.
BUG FIX - SIGNING OUT OF THE APPLICATION
Previously when signing out, users would be sent to the account management page in Sefaira and had to log out again from there.
Logging out from apps.sefaira.com now logs you out of the whole product.
BUG FIXES - ENERGYPLUS V8.6 - FAN COIL ENERGY AND RADIANT FLOORS
There were two bugs with version 8.6:
- Fan energy from fan coil units was being parsed incorrectly due to a change in the E+ outputs - this was causing users to see massive fan energy for most fan coil unit objects.
- Radiant Floor options regularly crashed.
Both issues are now fixed. EnergyPlus v8.6 will shortly be the new default version.
BUG FIX - PLUGIN GLAZING CHANGING TO WALLS
In the SketchUp Plugin, elements tagged as glazing were unexpectedly being changed to type wall.
This was fixed today.
IMPROVEMENT - EDUCATION USER WORKFLOW
Educational users are now given the option to choose which product they want to use if they have access to the old Sefaira Architecture web app. Previously they were just taken straight to the old web app.
BUG FIX - TIME OF DAY SLIDERS FIXED
The time of day sliders in the plugin were not working properly, often jumping or breaking.
This was fixed today
IMPROVEMENT - PROJECTS PAGE LAYOUT
We changed the design of the green "Create Project" button to be clearer as to what it does.
The button enables users to create a new project from a building massing that has already been uploaded. We had observed that it was not clear to users this is what the button did, so we made the link as a text link stating "Create a project with a template model.
We also changed the sequence when you create a project from existing to it flows more logically.
BUG FIX - ENERGY CHARTS
We fixed a few minor interface and naming issues.
NEW FEATURE - HOURLY DRY BULB TEMPERATURE RESULTS BY ZONE
After running a thermal comfort simulation you can now download a spreadsheet that contains hourly dry bulb temperature results for each zone in your model.
To access, click download in the comfort tab (see below)
NAME CHANGE - DAY SCHEDULES IN SPACE USE
Weekly schedules were previously called "Weekdays", "Weekdays and Saturdays", "Weekdays, Weekends and Holidays"
This was confusing to some customers so it's now "5-days". "6-days", "7-days"
BUG FIX - USER INTERFACE NOT UPDATING FOR NEW ARCHITECTURE USERS SWITCHING CLONES
Some users who have Architecture only were having issues with switching between iterations and with the monthly chart.
This was fixed today.
BUG FIX - SHADING PRESETS
Some users were finding that shading presets for the top 3 items were not being remembered by the user interface.
We fixed this bug today.
BUG FIX - RESPONSE CURVES FOR COMFORT AND PV
There was a bug causing response curves not to publish results for comfort and PV outputs.
This was fixed today.
BUG FIX - INCORRECT ZONING DIAGRAM SOMETIMES SHOWN
Projects with multiple massing types were sometimes showing the incorrect floor plan when first opened.
This was fixed today.
IMPROVEMENT - FASTER PAGE LOADING FOR PROJECTS WITH LOTS OF ITERATIONS
Projects with lots of iterations containing the same building massing should now load faster.
NEW FEATURE - THERMAL COMFORT VALUES IN RESULTS GRID / RESPONSE CURVES
Thermal Comfort outputs can now be chosen from the results grid to compare options or used in a response curve.
The image shows the metrics that have been added.
BUG FIX - ENERGY TARIFF INTERFACE
Some users with IE reported issues with energy cost tariff and CO2 rate changes not being remembered.
This was fixed today.
IMPROVEMENT - ENERGY CHART INTERACTIONS
We improved some of the interactions within the energy charts today:
BUG FIX - AUTOMATIC RUNS
In some browsers automatic runs were not returning results. This was fixed today.
IMPROVEMENT - PAGE LOADING SPEED
We made some changes to the way data is sent back and forth to the web-site.
The web app should now load and refresh much faster than before.
BUG FIX - SECONDARY HEATING SYSTEMS IN NATURAL VENTILATION
In some systems, secondary heating systems were not being switched off with natural ventilation, resulting in higher energy use than intended.
This was fixed today.
BUG FIX - COOLING TOWER SIZING ON ANNUAL NATURAL VENTILATION SIMULATIONS
Cooling towers were being oversized by the auto-size routine used in Annual simulations. Because Cooling Towers are constant flow, this was leading to very high pumping energy for naturally ventilated buildings in particular.
Cooling towers are now set to have zero size for zones which do not have cooling.
BUG FIX - Unique zone name by level instead of floor plate
BUG FIX - GROUND TEMPERATURES FOR SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE CLIMATES
There was a bug discovered in the script we were using to calculate monthly ground temperatures that caused southern hemisphere ground temperatures to be seasonally backwards.
We fixed this today.
BUG FIXES - USER INTERFACE
Issues with natural ventilation controls not triggering new runs was fixed today.
BUG FIXES - USER INTERFACE
Some new UI bugs were discovered relating to features released yesterday. These mostly affected:
- Natural Ventilation controls (not triggering runs on change)
- Thermal Comfort (not always updating)
- Energy downloads (links not appearing)
The second and 3rd items were fixed today.
BUG FIXES - REVIT ROOMS
in some instances, Revit rooms were not properly being properly interrupted.
NEW PRODUCT UPGRADE - ARCHITECTURE WEB APPLICATION
Architecture customers were all given a new web application today based on the Sefaira Systems EnergyPlus web application.
This is essentially the web application for which all recent updates on this page have applied.
As part of the launch, all Architecture customers who had previously not used the E+ web-app were provided with 6 case study projects.
IMPROVEMENT - SPACE USES COPIED FROM PLUGIN TO WEB APP
We now copy the space use defaults from the plugin across to the web application when projects are created or added to existing.
This copies the standard template values from the 6 plugin space uses for Equipment, Lighting and Outside Air Rate.
If you make changes in the plugin to these values or choose a different space use template when creating a new project these values are not transferred.
BUG FIXES - USER INTERFACE
We fixed some bug fixes related to when the Comfort results appear (sometimes they were not appearing when they should) as well as relating to some tool tips and natural ventilation interactions.
We also fixed a formatting error with the Energy and CO2 tariff pop-up.
BUG FIX - NONE.GET ERROR WITH HEATING + VENTILATION
Heating + Ventilation projects with the heating in the AHU switched off were generating a red-box error with the message none.get.
This was fixed today.
NEW FEATURE - UPLOAD YOUR OWN WEATHER DATA
Upload your own weather data to the web app (E+ version only) by clicking on the weather link (top left corner) and choosing "upload .epw" file.
This was a popular request and also replaces the service we provided obtaining new weather files for customers (we can still help you source your own .epw files if you need help)
Customers are responsible for ensuring they have approval to use weather data uploaded commercially.
IMPORTANT NOTICE AND IMPROVEMENT - SPACE USE SCHEDULES AND DEFAULTS - PLUGIN AND WEB APP
Substantial changes were made to the default use types in the plugin (E+ version) and web app (E+ version) today.
What this means for you?
Energy results will change in the plugin, especially if you regularly use the ASHRAE baselines.
Why are we doing this?
What did we change?
IMPROVEMENT - DAY SCHEDULES FOR INTERNAL LOADS
A new dropdown has been added to the Space Use tab to provide control over the number of days per week the internal loads are applied.
You can choose to have internal loads applied 5,6 or 7 days per week.
A similar HVAC control to appear soon. Currently HVAC operation is 5 days per week.
BUG FIX - NATURAL VENTILATION DROPDOWN
The heating and cooling unit dropdown in the Nat Vent tab got locked after a release last week.
It is now fixed.
NEW FEATURE - TOLERANCE CONTROL FOR COMFORT RESULTS
Sefaira has a tolerance range that passes thermal comfort results just outside the set-point range.
Today we added control over the tolerance range via a settings link in the header of the comfort card.
BUG FIX - DISPLACEMENT VENTILATION
There was a bug introduced last week with a natural ventilation improvement that caused red-box errors to appear when running Displacement Ventilation projects.
This was fixed today.
NEW FEATURE - COMFORT FEATURE FOR DRY BULB TEMPERATURES
Choose how often you expect zones to be comfortable and Sefaira will tell you what percentage of hours each zone falls within the setpoint range for occupied hours.
Click on each zone to get more information on how comfortable it is.
Use this information to test the viability or relative impact of passive design strategies on a natural ventilation solution and to validate the comfort of the HVAC system.
This is a substantial new feature - please feel free to provide feedback on how we can improve this feature or if you do not think results are reasonable.
IMPROVEMENT - NATURAL VENTILATION CONTROLS
We made further tweaks to natural ventilation controls today to reduce extra heating energy caused by windows opening too much in cold conditions.
- Windows now start to open at the mid-point between heating and cooling setpoints.
- Windows are fully open when space temperatures are 5°C / 9°F above outside air temperatures but now close very dramatically to be only fractionally open as the delta T increases.
IMPROVEMENT - SEFAIRA FOR REVIT - GENERATE VIEWS VIEW NAMING
Generating Views in Sefaira for Revit delivers views that are analysis-ready. We have renamed the Sefaira views created by Generate Views to be as follows:
The two analysis views are optimized for their specific study. This renaming should help you quickly select the best view to suit the analysis at hand.
NEW FEATURE - KEEP OUR USERS IN SYNC
For Sefaira account administrators, within the Bulk invite page, you can now use a spreadsheet to drive the list of Sefaira users for your account. Learn more about this new feature here.
NEW FEATURE - BUILDING USE PRESET CONFIGURATIONS FOR DOAS AHUs IN NAT VENT TAB
Architecture / Strategies users who do not have control over the Air-side tab are not able to configure the DOAS air handling unit properly.
For non-commercial projects this was causing issues, especially when considering natural ventilation.
There is now a drop-down in the Nat Vent tab to choose a pre-set group of variables that configure the mechanical system according to 3 typical building types.
*** We have found a bug with this where it changes the HVAC system back to Fan Coil Units - this is being fixed***
BUG FIX - RUN BUTTON NOT APPEARING
There was a bug introduced by a recent feature that meant the Update button was not appearing for users with some web-browsers.
This was fixed today.
IMPROVEMENT - DEFAULT CHANGE FOR DOAS
The Design Airflow rate for the Air Handling Units is now based on the ventilation rate in each zone by default rather than the manually entered value of 1.5l/s/m2 (0.3cfm/sqft).
This makes it more likely to be correct for a wider range of projects.
Systems customers can change the setting back to a manually entered value in the air-side tab.
BUG FIX - SEFAIRA FOR SKETCHUP - ENTITY ASSIGNMENTS UPDATE AS MATERIALS CHANGE
Users reported that applying an opaque material to glazing did not result in that plane being tagged as a wall. (The plane retained its glazing tag.)
This issue has been resolved, so when you apply an opaque material to a glazing plane, the entity assignment will update automatically.
BUG FIX - SEFAIRA FOR SKETCHUP - ENTITY PLANE COUNTS UPDATE AS EXPECTED
Sefaira takes a WYSIWYG approach: visible geometry is analyzed and hidden geometry is not. Users reported that the plane count totals in the Entity Palette did not reflect this approach.
The issue is now resolved.
NEW FEATURE - PLUGIN USERS CAN NOW CANCEL A RUN
The Plugin supports quick iterative studies. Sometimes, you may kick off an analysis only to realize you still need to make a change or two. Use the Cancel button to stop the analysis so you can get your inputs just right before initiating a new run.
BUG FIX - BASELINE SELECTOR IN THE PLUGIN
Users reported that a baseline selection in the Properties section of the Plugin would not persist (i.e. the baseline would revert back to its previous state when a run was initiated).
The issue has been resolved: baseline selections now persist.
BUG FIX - NATURAL VENTILATION CONTROLS
Some of the settings in the Natural Ventilation schedules for windows were causing windows to remain closed for some models at strange times.
We have changed the scheduling settings so this no longer happens.
This should improve the overall performance of Natural Ventilation in terms of cooling.
BUG FIX - MONTHLY ENERGY CHART NOT SHOWING FOR NEW PROJECTS
The Monthly energy breakdown was not showing for newly created projects.
This has been fixed today.
IMPROVEMENT - ANALYSIS DOES NOT INITIATE UPON PLUGIN OPENING
This year, we've made changes in the plugin to support more deliberate analysis. This latest improvement ensures that analysis does not initiate when you open the plugin. This is helpful when you are considering a large model that may benefit from some refinement before conducting analysis. So, rather than initiating a run before you're ready, Sefaira waits until the "Update Analysis" command is given before generating a performance assessment.
BUG FIX - RED BOX ERRORS IN NATURAL VENTILATION MODE
DOAS Systems with a heating hot water loop were often generating red-box errors in full Natural Ventilation mode because the heating hot water loop and zone unit fans were not switching off as intended when windows were open.
This was fixed today. It also improved results as it now correctly prevents zone unit fans and HHW pumps from being active when windows are open.
NEW FEATURE - FIXED GLAZING
Tag glazing planes in either plugin as fixed to prevent them from being opened by Natural Ventilation calculations or included in Free Area calculations.
This is a great way to deal with variations in glazing across the same facade of a naturally ventilated building.
Note that all glazing defaults to operable except for curtain-walls in Revit which default to fixed.
Fixed glazing attributes are otherwise the same as operable glazing (SHGC, U-value etc).
BUG FIX - UI NOT TRACKING SPACE USE CHANGES ON HVAC CHANGE
A user interface bug was causing space use allocations to reset on HVAC system changes with some combinations of zoning and HVAC systems.
This was fixed today.
BUG FIX - REVIT LINKED MODELS
We fixed two issues with support for Revit linked models:
IMPROVEMENT - UI STYLING
We've changed some of the styling and colouring for the zoning tab in particular to make it easier to tell when you are hovering over a zone and when you have selected (blue) or ignored (grey) a zone.
BUG FIX - VAV WARMUP
We noticed during comfort testing that EnergyPlus was not applying warm-up to some zones properly for VAV systems and as a results zone heating was not properly starting until HVAC is on.
This is a bug in EnergyPlus that happens when the minimum turndown ratio is very low for small zones.
We fixed this by increasing the minimum turndown fraction during warmup from 0.001 to 0.01.
For most projects the impact on energy use will be negligible.
BUG FIX - NEGATIVE VOLUMES
A very small number of models were throwing EnergyPlus errors when projects included tiny zones which were being parsed as having negative volume.
These zones are now discarded automatically so these errors no longer occur.
NEW SETTINGS - NEW PLUGIN USERS DEFAULT TO E+
To support our continued transition to EnergyPlus as the sole energy analysis engine for our products, we have changed the default setting for new users from Fulcrum to EnergyPlus. This will only affect users who are new to the Plugin. If you have used the Plugin previously, your settings from your previous session should persist.
NEW FEATURE - FREE AREA .XLXS REPORT DOWNLOAD
Download a report summarising the free area score for all zones in an iteration from the header of the Free Area Criteria Card.
The report includes gross glazed area and space use type per zone as well as summary outputs for all zones.
CHANGE TO THE DEFAULT ENERGY ANALYSIS ENGINE IN THE PLUGIN
We've made a change to the default settings to help new users quickly adopt an EnergyPlus-only workflows: The default Energy Analysis engine is now EnergyPlus.
This will only affect users who have never used the Plugin before.
If you are already an active user, and are currently using Fulcrum, your settings in the Plugin will persist.
IMPROVEMENT - CORE ZONE SIZING FOR CAV HEATING
Sizing days did not end up capturing sizing requirements for CAV heating coils in core zones.
Thermal comfort tests showed core zones with persistently cold space temperatures (below setpoint) in core zones during hours of low load because of this.
We fixed this by manually inserting a hand-calculated heating coil size for mid-floor core zones into the .idf file, based on the design airflow into the zone.
BUG FIX - ENERGY PIE MISSING GRAPH FOR INTERNET EXPLORER 11
Some users running Internet Explorer 11 reported missing the EnergyPie graph and other energy graphics.
Today we fixed this bug.
IMPROVEMENT - MONTHLY ENERGY TOGGLE IN PIE CHART
The monthly energy chart was previously located below the energy pie chart. Today we moved it into the same card as the energy pie chart.
It is accessed via an annual/month toggle in the energy pie chart (see below)
CHANGE NOTICE - USERS SWITCHED TO "RUN ON DEMAND MODE"
Today we pushed all users into "Run on Demand" mode where an Update button needs to be clicked to generate a run
All customers were changed over. From now on all new customers default to Run on Demand.
You can still do automatic runs. Further information on run modes in this link.
BUG FIX - REVIT: GENERATE VIEWS FAILING WHEN FILL PATTERN IS ABSENT
During the Generate Views process Sefaira looks for a Fill Pattern called "Diagonal crosshatch".
Before this recent fix, Generate Views would fail if "Diagonal crosshatch" was not found in the Revit project.
This fix creates a Fill Pattern for any affected user so that Generate Views completes successfully.
BUG FIX - USER INTERFACE ISSUES
We fixed a couple of bugs relating to the activation of the Natural Ventilation tab.
We believe we have fixed a rare issue that leaves a user stuck on the projects page with an endless spinning-wheel. if you have this error please contact us email@example.com .
IMPROVEMENT - PROJECT SHARING WHEN NOT THE OWNER
Users can now share a project with someone even if they are not the Project Owner. Previously only the owner could add new users to a project.
Anyone with access to a project can also remove anyone else from a project so long as they are not the Project Owner.
IMPROVEMENT - SELECT YOUR ANALYSIS MODE IN THE PLUGIN
You now have the choice to run Energy analysis, Daylighting analysis, or both at the same time.
Separating analysis modes ensures neither is unnecessarily constrained by the other. For example, EnergyPlus analysis lags when shading planes exceed 500. Daylighting analysis, however, can handle 500+ shading planes with ease. Decoupling the analyses ensures your Daylighting studies are not constrained by unrelated technical limits.
IMPROVEMENT - CHANGES AND FIXES TO NEW USER HEADERS AND PRE-LOADED PROJECTS
New users get a header in the projects page that provides helpful links and guidance to get started.
We made a few changes to these headers, fixing some broken links and also providing direct access to sample models.
We have also changed the name for Strategies users to New Architecture which reflects the transition in our web-application.
New Architecture customers also now receive a Building Form Library (previously only added to Systems accounts) as well as the 3 demo projects.
BUG FIX - VAV CONTROLS AFTER HOURS
Changes to VAV and CAV - Central Plant after-hours settings implemented Jan 9 2017 were found to have an E+ error. EnergyPlus was treating VAV boxes with a minimum turndown of 0 after hours as permanently off.
At 9am GMT today we changed the VAV minimum turndown fraction to 0.001 after hours.
This will ensure correct conditioning overnight to maintain set-back temperatures.
Expect a small increase in energy for VAV and CAV systems.
IMPROVEMENT - ZONES LESS THAN 0.5m2 (0.9ft2) NOW DISCARDED
Zones either drawn in Skp or Rooms imported from Revit with an area less than 0.5m2 are now ignored.
These were previously causing EnergyPlus errors for some models (the minimum zone area E+ can handle varies but was always found to be less than 0.5m2).
This should reduce E+ errors from models that inadvertently have very small rooms or zones.
The zones still show in the web-application as having zero area but they are ignored from the actual E+ model (see below).
IMPROVEMENT - SUPPORT FOR ENERGYPLUS v8.6
Sefaira now supports EnergyPlus v8.6. The EnergyPlus version is controlled on the project page at the project level.
The default version for new projects will remain v8.5 until all tests are complete. The version for existing projects will remain what it was until changed.
BUG FIX - STABILITY OF ZONING PLAN
The zoning diagram had a tendency to be late updating in some browsers which led to confusion as to the model being studied.
This was fixed today.
BUG FIX - DAYLIGHTING VISUALIZATION SNAPSHOT FAILS TO CAPTURE ALL INFORMATION
In the process of transforming the UI to a static image, some elements were not being captured appropriately.
For example, the legend would be cut off, and the tooltips illustrating spot metrics would not render properly.
This was fixed today. Downloading a Snapshot should now deliver an output that is immediately ready for the client's review.
BUG FIX - CHILLED WATER AVAILABILITY CAUSING E+ ERRORS
Chilled water availability was hard-coded to switch off whenever outside air temperatures were below 7.2°C. This caused some projects to produce EnergyPlus errors - specifically fan coil and other chilled-water DOAS systems with core zones that had high internal loads.
We changed the hard-coded threshold to -30°C today so chilled water is now available at all times. This error should no longer occur.
BUG FIX - DAYLIGHTING VISUALIZATION NOT APPEARING ON MAC
The Daylighting Visualization window would not return visualization results for Mac users.
This was fixed today.
BUG FIX - EXCEL SIZING DOWNLOAD
There is a download icon in the results grid (see excel icon below) that supports downloading zone level HVAC sizing for Systems users.
There was a bug with the download for users running in EnergyPlus v8.5 - changes to parsing in the new E+ version meant that only zeros were reported for many outputs.
This was fixed today.
NEW FEATURE - MONTHLY ENERGY SLIDE
A reporting slide can now be downloaded for the Monthly Energy Breakdown The slide will show the view selected so it can be customized to show cost, CO2, or a drill-down view in categories such as heating or cooling
BUG FIX - PEAK LOAD CALCULATIONS FOR NATURAL VENTILATION PROJECTS
Peak loads were not being calculated properly for naturally ventilated projects because we were changing setpoints in EnergyPlus to control whether HVAC was on or off.
This was fixed today and now peak cooling and heating loads are calculated correctly based on the setpoints that are being used to control the natural ventilation system.
BUG FIX - PERIMETER CORE ALGORITHM
For some models the perimeter core boundaries were being incorrectly cut short (see image below). This was fixed today (new interpretation left, old interpretation, right)
BUG FIX - FREE AREA VISIBLE FOR STRATEGIES USERS
The free area tab was not visible to strategies users. This was fixed today.
BUG FIXES - CHANGES TO CAV, VAV SETTINGS AND WARMUP CONTROLS
The following factors were changed which we considered to be bug fixes:
- For Central CAV systems and VAV systems the box position was remaining open at minimum turndown during "off" hours. This led to higher energy use and lower sizing. The VAV box minimum position when HVAC is off is now zero.
- Warmup time (referred to in the app as Setback to Setpoint Ramp Up time because it can also include cool-down) can be changed within the application and has been shown to be 1 hour but was actually operating at zero hours. This was changed so that a setting of 1 now means 1 hour warmup.
- The default warm-up time was changed to 2 hours after investigations into how effectively the buildings warm up with our current models.
NEW FEATURE - ENERGY PIE REPORT
A reporting slide can now be downloaded for the Energy Pie Chart. The slide will show the view selected at the time and includes a table summarising the usage breakdown.
FASTER LOADING OF PROJECTS PAGE
We improved caching for the projects page so the page loads faster.
BUG FIX - ITERATION ORDER
The order of iterations was reported to not be retained on occasion for some customers and projects. Improvements to the code were released that should fix this.
BUX FIX - REMOVAL OF DUPLICATED ZONES
Some models ended up having duplicated zones when set to one-zone-per-room. This happened in both SketchUp and Revit.
The previous work-around was to ignore zones to get the area corrected.
Duplicated zones are now removed, and this means that only the required zones are left in each model. Models which previously had duplicate zones which were ignored or which had space uses assigned are highly likely to now produce different and possibly incorrect results.
Models where users had duplicated zones produced zoning warnings showing the difference in floor area. If action was not taken to ignore duplicated zones then those projects should be expected to show lower energy and sizing results.
It is strongly recommended reviewing energy models where one zone per room had been applied as the zoning strategy.
BUG FIX - ALLOCATION OF CORE AND PERIMETER ZONES
Some core zones were being incorrectly assigned as perimeter zones. This has been fixed.
This has some implications for existing projects as follows:
- Existing projects that incorrectly had core zones tagged as perimeter zones will now have the correct infiltration rates. This will change the energy and sizing results.
BUX FIX - PERIMETER CORE ZONING ALGORITHM
The Perimeter / Core Zoning algorithm was changed and improved.
This has implications for existing projects as follows:
- Some existing projects where the zoning strategy was set to "Perimeter Core" which failed to generate zoning may now have perimeter core zoning applied which could affect results
- Existing projects where space uses were assigned to some perimeter zones may find that different perimeter zones have the space uses assigned. We recommend checking this.
NEW FEATURE - FREE AREA CALCULATIONS
A new output tab undertakes free area calculations by zone and provides a visual pass/fail output on the floor plan based on a success criteria.
This is a very useful way to quickly see how close a design is to being compliant for natural ventilation before running any comfort calculations.
BUG FIX - CONSISTENT ROUNDING OF ENERGY RESULTS
There were small inconsistencies between the results published in the energy output tab and the results grid. This was caused by different rounding being applied at different times to results. This was fixed.
IMPROVEMENT - DRILL-DOWN INTO MONTHLY CHART
It is now possible to drill-down into the monthly energy chart to see it as a view showing just one subset of energy use (eg heating, cooling, fans, etc).
To zoom back out, click again on the chart.
NEW FEATURE - ENERGY COMPARISON REPORT
A reporting slide can now be downloaded for the Energy Comparison Chart on the Energy Tab. The slide will show the view selected at the time and includes a table summarising the usage breakdown. The view selected can include drill-downs like use type or energy metric (Eg cost, CO2 etc)
BUG FIX - CRACK INFILTRATION
For projects that did not have natural ventilation enabled but did have crack infiltration enabled, the implementation applied an area-change infiltration rate rather than crack flow rate.
This was fixed today.
GROUP NAME EDITABLE AND SHOWS AREA
The group name now shows the area of the group and can be edited.
NEW FEATURE - ENERGY SPREADSHEET DOWNLOAD
The breakdown of energy, cost and carbon values for all iterations can now be downloaded as a single spreadsheet.
BUG FIX - ZONING DIAGRAM
The zoning diagram was not showing the correct zoning approach in some environments and this was fixed.
GROUP NAME CHANGE
Group was previously called Bundle and this was changed today.
NEW FEATURE - MONTHLY ENERGY CHART
In the Energy Output tab there is a new chart showing the monthly energy, cost and CO2 breakdown. This is located below the energy pie chart.
BUG FIX - AREA WEIGHTED VALUES IN COMPARISON CHART CORRECTED
Area weighted values in the compare chart were sometimes calculated incorrectly and this was fixed.
GROUPS INCLUDED IN COMPARE ENERGY CHART
The Compare Energy Chart now shows the results for Groups rather than the Iterations within the Group.
GROUP FEATURE TO SUPPORT DETAILED BUILDINGS
Iterations can now be combined into a group that summarises the outcomes in the results grid. This is designed to support detailed buildings with aspects such as:
- Multiple envelope properties per orientation
- Multiple HVAC systems per building
- Masterplan sites with different buildings
PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCES ADDED TO ENERGY COMPARISON CHARTS
The Energy Comparison Chart now shows the percentage differences between each of the design iterations.
RESPONSE CURVES AND COLLECTIONS FOR OPENNESS IN NATURAL VENTILATION
Free Area and Window opening factors are now changeable by orientation.
Response curves can now be run on window free area and openable proportion.
MECHANICAL VENTILATION CONTROLS FOR NATURAL VENTILATION
There is a new set of controls in the Natural Ventilation tab that provides control over when the mechanical ventilation system activates in combination with the natural ventilation operation.
SETPOINT SLIDER RANGE CHANGE
We extended the range for the zone setpoint slider to have a maximum of 50C.
DRILLDOWN FEATURE FOR ENERGY COMPARISON CHART
Click on sub-groups within the compare energy chart such as heating, cooling, fans etc to see the comparison of performance for the sub-group separately.
CLEARER ACCESS TO TARIFF AND CO2 FACTORS
There is now a clearer link to change the cost tariffs and CO2 factors in the energy output tab.
FLOOR AREA ON ZONING DIAGRAM NOW EXCLUDES IGNORED ZONES
Previously the floor area shown on all zoning diagrams included the area of ignored zones - it now excludes the area for all ignored zones.
MULTI-SELECT ZONES FOR CHANGING SPACE USE
It's now possible to use CTRL or SHIFT to select multiple zones and change the space use for all at once in the zoning tab.
In addition, the cells that are selected are now highlighted so it's easy to see which ones are going to be changed in the plan diagram.
NATURAL VENTILATION FEATURE
A new output tab has been added for Sefaira Systems and Strategies for Natural Ventilation.
The output tab enables you to apply some natural ventilation controls for perimeter zones and then see how the controls impact energy use and HVAC sizing.
The first iteration does not provide comfort outputs but lets you set up a natural ventilation system for your project.
LAYOUT CHANGE - ENERGY PIE AND COMPARISON
The Energy Pie Chart and Comparison Chart were moved to a card layout to support more options and graphics in the future.
BUG-FIX - ENERGYPLUS REPORT DOWNLOADS IN IP
There has been an issue for users downloading the EnergyPlus reports from the results grid when in IP units.
This has been fixed but only downloads if you are in Run-On-Demand mode. You can switch to Run-On-Demand in the settings (found in the top-right corner of the screen)
For information Sefaira runs all simulations in SI units. We convert outputs for the web-application. When you are in Run-On-Demand Sefaira will run 2 simulations in both units so this report can be downloaded.
BUG-FIX - SPACE USE ASSIGNMENTS
There was a bug with Space Use assignment in the Zoning tab introduced with Share Project Outside Firm that affected some users.
These users were not seeing the correct space use options in the dropdown on the Zoning tab.
This has been fixed.
STRATEGIES USERS NOW HAVE COPY PROJECT
The copy project feature on the Projects page is now available for Strategies Users as well.
This feature makes a full copy of the user's project including all iterations and configurations for each iteration.
COMPARE ENERGY FEATURE
We've added a new feature to the Energy Output tab - Compare Options.
This feature generates a graph that we've heard many customers typically need to present as part of their work - a stacked bar chart with energy use for all their options.
This is now generated automatically and can be accessed by clicking "Compare" in the energy pie.
GLAZING RATIO / WINDOW TO WALL RATIO REPORTED IN WEB-APP
The web-app has a glazing ratio override feature available to users in the Envelope tab.
Previously this would pre-populate the values with 0.4 as a default.
It now pre-populates the values with the actual glazing ratio imported from the 3D model.
CHOICE OF HVAC SYSTEM
The Strategies view of the web-app previously did not have any HVAC options available in the dropdown but the users were able to "manufacture" an HVAC system by selecting the right use type and region.
We've now made the 3 options available to users in the dropdown so Strategies Users can choose between these systems. They are:
- VAV with a rooftop package unit
- VAV with 100% outside air (for lab and healthcare buildings)
- 4-pipe Fan Coil Units.
Strategies users will still see other HVAC systems if a Systems user has selected them for a project.
ZONE WARNING ERROR FIX
There is a zone warning error that pops up in the zoning tab whenever a zoning strategy is assigned and there are issues with that strategy.
We report this as a warning because we make adjustments to enable the model to keep running but want to alert the user to potential issues that would affect accuracy.
One warning compares the total zone area with the floor plate area and notes the difference. This helps alert a user to duplicated zones or filled holes.
The warning previously reported multiple errors per floor for some models. This has been fixed.
IDF DOWNLOAD NOW ADDED TO STRATEGIES VIEW
The strategies view of the web-app now incorporates the idf-download button. This enables the idf file from any iteration to be downloaded.
3D VIEW OF MODEL IN RESULTS GRID UPDATING PROPERLY
The web-app previously had a bug where if you changed the massing, the new image did not show up without a refresh. This also caused the user to see the old massing's floor plate on any "collections" feature.
This bug has been fixed.
SCROLLING IN FLOOR PLAN VIEWS
Users with large models had commented that when a project has a lot of zones, it's hard to see the zone and the floor plan at the same time.
To address this we added a scrolling function to the zone list on all the floor plan views with a list of zones below.
This way you can see the zone information and the floor plate at the same time.
PROJECT SHARING OUTSIDE FIRM
A lot of architects and engineers have been interested in a workflow where 2 customers can work together on the same project.
It is now possible to invite anyone to work on your project and if they have access, they will be able to see it.
To do this, go to "Manage Team" and select "Share Project Outside of Your Firm".
You will be prompted to enter an email address. Any email address entered will show up (to protect the privacy of users). If the email is a customer, they will have access based on their permissions.
NO HEATING AND ELECTRIC HEATING OPTIONS FOR VAV AHU
We've now added the ability to turn off the heating in the VAV air handling unit for both the VAV Rooftop Package Unit option (System 5) and the VAV with Central Plant option (System 7).
We've also added the ability to switch a heating hot water loop in VAV with Central Plant for an Electric coil.
"RUN ON DEMAND" MODE
Some customers found Sefaira's automatic run confusing or frustrating and we also had identified issues where frequent changes over a short space of time could throw up red-box errors for users.
As a result we've set up a "Simulate when I click the Run Button" mode for users. This is available in the user settings. In this mode a run button will appear once changes have been made instead of having a run automatically commence. The user will then need to click run to get the simulate to start, meaning that lots of changes can be made without starting a new run.
ENERGY COST PIE FIX
The cost for heating in the AHU where "Water" or "HHW Loop" was selected as the source of heat was not showing up in the COST view of the energy pie chart.
This has been fixed.
DRAG AND DROP ITERATIONS
We observed that many customers created lots of iterations (clones) and then wanted to change the order of them to tell a better design story.
To make this easier, you can now drag and drop any iteration in the results grid so that you can have them in whichever order suits you best.
UPLOAD TO EXISTING BUG FIX
We have fixed a bug relating to the "Upload to Existing" option when uploading a building form from SketchUp or Revit.
Previously forms added to an existing project used our old default values for material properties rather than the values from the plugin.
Now the material property values from the plugin are read and applied to a model uploaded to an existing project (this already happened for models uploaded to a new project).
NEW INFILTRATION VARIABLE - CRACK FLOW
Infiltration can now be simulated by nominating the design airflow per perimeter length of window. (l/s per m of window perimeter in metric, cfm per ft of window perimeter in IP).
We're working on integrating natural ventilation into the product. This metric is required for any model that wants to use natural ventilation, which is why it's been added now.
ZOOM AND PAN IN ZONE DIAGRAMS
We had feedback that users wanted to be able to better identify the zones in their model and that for some buildings the zoning diagram was not clear enough.
This improvement added zooming and panning to all zone diagrams to make it easier for you to identify smaller zones within a model or zones within a very large floor plate.
ROOF GLAZING AND SKYLIGHTS NOW SUPPORTED IN SYSTEMS AND STRATEGIES
We've been making lots of improvements to our model interpretation workflow lately and it's great to be able to let everyone know that roof glazing is now supported in the web-application (and on the E+ version of our plug-in).
Planes tagged as glazing in SketchUp or Revit which are on the roof will now come through as roof glazing into the E+ model. There are some exceptions - heavily pitched roof glazing may be missed for very tall roofs but in most cases it should come through without a hitch.
There are also controls on the envelope tab to enable adjustment to the roof glazing assembly U-value and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient.
NEW PIE COLOURS
We changed the colours in the energy pie chart for Systems and Strategies.
The purpose was to reduce confusion between heating and equipment. We'll be making further additions to this section too so watch this space.
"GETTING STARTED" HEADER AND PROJECTS ADDED TO EXISTING ACCOUNTS WITHOUT RECENT USE
We'd had some feedback and observed that it can be hard to get started with Sefaira Systems which is why we made a recent update to the way new users get brought into the product.
We had a lot of requests to provide the same for older users who had not been able to have any success for whatever reason.
Systems customers who had not used the software in the past 12 months were also provided with sample projects and a "getting started" header to make it easier for them to get going.
ENERGY PLUS VERSIONING SUPPORTED
EnergyPlus (the engine used by Sefaira Systems) is updated on a 6-month cycle by the US Department of Energy. Until today all projects were running on version 8.3 which had been released in May 2015.
On the project page you can now choose which version of EnergyPlus you want to use from the 3 most recent versions. All existing projects will remain on version 8.3 and all new projects will now be on the latest version, 8.5. Any project can be updated or reverted.
Generally speaking the latest version of EnergyPlus should be expected to run faster and have fewer bugs so it's a good option to choose if you're not sure.
MORE OUTPUTS IN RESULTS GRID
A lot of customers have asked to be able to see HVAC energy as well as cooling and heating energy on an area-weighted basis reported in the results grid. This is particularly helpful for users who are doing passivhaus studies and want to see the annual area-weighted cooling and heating energy. This was added to the dropdown menu today.
IMPROVED ON-BOARDING PROCESS FOR NEW USERS
We had found that many users struggle to get to their first run after being invited to use Sefaira Systems and we wanted to make it easier for new users to learn how to use Sefaira.
To do this we've made the following changes:
- New users given access to Sefaira Systems get provided with 3 sample projects and a building form library automatically when their account is created.
- After entering a password, new users are taken to the projects page where the case study projects and help links are provided in an easily accessible way.
For existing users this should make it easier for you to train up new users in your firm.
IMPROVED ZONE WARNINGS
Sefaira Systems provides warnings to help users realise when our model interpretation process has ended up having a model with more zones or conditioned area than expected.
Previously these warnings have been confusing and were not executed well. We've tidied up the error to provide clearer feedback.
There are now two error types:
1) Perimeter Core Zoning Error - this happens when the floor plate shape crashes the perimeter core zoning algorithm. The warning informs the user that a single zone per floor zoning arrangement has been used instead.
2) Area difference Error - we run a test comparing the total zoned area against the gross area of the floor plate and let the user know where there is a difference and why this may be the case. In some instances two or more warnings can appear per floor - this is due to issues with model interpretation which are being addressed.
The goal of the improved warnings is to help you to decide whether or not to make more changes to the model (such as ignoring zones or doing work in 3D) before deciding whether the results are correct.
COPY AND DELETE PROJECT FIXES
There were a substantial number of bugs identified with the Copy project - mainly reported with not all information being correctly copied across or some users reporting spinning that did not stop. Many of these issues were addressed including:
- Zone space use assignments are now copied
- Iterations and clones are copied in the correct order
- You can now get on with other things while a project copies or deletes
ADD PROJECT DESCRIPTION
You can now add a project description on the Projects page (apps.sefaira.com)
MORE RESPONSE CURVES
Response curves are one of Sefaira's most popular features. They enable you to run up to 10 simulations in parallel for 10 values of a single variable and then plot the performance of that variable against up to 2 outputs at a time.
We've now added the response curve feature to quite a few new items in the Systems web-application including:
- Lighting, Equipment and Occupant Density
- Ventilation Rates per person and per unit of floor area
- Rooftop Package COP
- Design Peak Specific Fan Power
- Supply Air Temperature from Central Air Handling Units (AHU)
- Heat Recovery Effectiveness for Central AHUs with heat recovery
Look for the response curve icon near any of the sliders or controls for the above.
You can now ignore any zone in the model. How does this work - the zone information is completely removed from EnergyPlus. Walls adjacent to zones that still exist become adiabatic (no heat transfer occurs).
How is this useful?
- If your model makes more zones that you need, you can IGNORE the ones that you don't want. This is much faster than making changes to the model and is a workaround if your model has zoning issues such as accidentally duplicated rooms.
- If you have a building with 2 HVAC systems you can now create 2 iterations, one for each system and simply IGNORE the zones that don't apply to that system. You will then get the individual system components and energy. We know lots of customers want multiple systems in a project. This is an interim solution for those customers.
- If your model includes spaces like elevator shafts, atriums, unconditioned areas in their project you can now ignore them (the area gets deleted as well BTW). Ignoring should not create the errors that unconditioned sometimes causes in E+ with failures to converge due to surfaces getting too hot or cold.
DOWNLOAD RESULTS GRID TO EXCEL
The results grid can now be downloaded in its entirety to an excel spreadsheet.
This feature enables users to take a permanent record of the work they have done and also to generate charts and graphs from the comparative data more effectively.
To download look for the "Download Grid to Excel" link in the top left corner. After you have used it one it will only appear when your mouse is in the results grid area.
NEW CONTROLS FOR AUTOMATED SHADING
New controls added for automated shading. User can now choose whether to control automated shading based on the solar gain on the glazing (default), the external air temperature or the internal air temperature and can adjust the thresholds for any of those components.
IMPROVED VRF HEAT RECOVERY SETTINGS
The heat recovery settings for the VRF options were changed to improve the zone to zone sharing of heat with this system type. The expected impact on projects is small.
100% OUTSIDE AIR VAV SYSTEM CONTROL CHANGES
We identified that in most projects the 100% Outside Air VAV system was operating more like a Constant Volume system rather than a Variable Volume system resulting in substantially higher energy results for many project applications.
We adjusted some of the settings sent to EnergyPlus that resulted in the system operating correctly.
For some projects this could substantially reduce operating energy for this system type.
Users can now copy a project on the projects page. This copies all iterations (Clones) in the project and all settings for each iteration.
When you click copy, it will ask you to choose a different location. This will affect the energy cost and CO2 tariff basis and currency and will also modify the weather file if you pick a different location.
If you choose a different location, the whole project will kick off a new simulation.
There is a known bug we are looking to fix for projects with a lot of clones or large models - all projects may not copy before receiving a time out warning (red box error). Ignore this and refresh after a few minutes as the project will still be copied in full. WE are working to eliminate this.
IMPROVED DESIGN AIR FLOW DEFINITION FOR DOAS SYSTEMS
Before: The size of the DOAS Central AHU could only be set with an area-weighted value that was equal for all zones.
After: The size of the DOAS Central AHU can either be the area-weighted value or be based on the higher value of:
- Outdoor air per person plus outdoor air per unit area, or
- Total air change requirements
New projects uploaded from SketchUp default to the new value. Existing projects and projects uploaded from Revit still default to the DOAS AHU value.
ENERGY IN RESPONSE CURVES
Energy use and cost are now included in response curve outputs.
NEW SHADING INPUT TAB
This new shading feature provides users with a more intuitive way to interact with shading. It includes preset options and multiple automated shading device options.
PUMPING ASSUMPTION CHANGES
We changed the way we determine ground loop and WSHP pumping energy to refine analysis outputs. This increased reported energy consumption for water-cooled VAV and WSHP systems.
EDITABLE CO2 FACTORS
Users can now edit the pre-determined values for CO2 emissions per unit of electricity or gas.
OCCUPANCY SCHEDULES & VENTILATION
Ventilation operation schedules had previously been fixed from 8am-6pm Monday to Friday.
This was changed so now ventilation operates Monday - Friday, whenever a zone is "on" according to the HVAC schedule.
Note this change introduced a bug which was unnoticed for 2 weeks. During this time the outside air schedule was higher than it should have been for some projects, especially DOAS systems, and could have caused energy results from simulations at this time to be higher than expected.
ABILITY TO TURN OFF HEATING AND COOLING IN DOAS AHUs
You can now turn off heating and cooling in the air handling unit, to better analyse residential projects and simpler building types.
TOTAL AIR CHANGES & OUTSIDE AIR CHANGES
Improved control of return air changes and outside air changes to enable users to simulate hospital and laboratory type projects.
CO2 emissions can now be viewed in the Results Grid
Option to add an automated external or internal blind to the model
User provided with the option to ignore shading drawn or incorporated in the uploaded 3D model
Support SketchUp 2016
Corrected a bug in the fan power sliders for some fan coil unit types
User is able to switch off the heating and cooling in the air handling unit, enabling them to properly analyse projects including many types of residential project and simpler building types
User can now account for energy impact of humidifying ventilation air in very cold climates. Was a contractual agreement with a customer.
User can now adjust the energy tariffs used for the energy cost calculations in both views of the E+ web-app.
Enable user to choose what type of infiltration measure they use to adjust and control infiltration in the web-application. Supports smoother importing of models from the plugin into the E+ web-app
Revit curtain walls are no longer causing various models to time out.
Improvements to SketchUp Zoning include better operability with EnergyPlus and support for a wider range of programmatic layouts.
Revit Collections are no longer causing errors with uploads.
Systems users can now include a simple Solar PV system in their analysis
Added new system to mimic radiant slabs for heating and cooling
Energy Pie chart can now be seen in terms of Energy Cost as well as raw energy